With the advancement in technology, the inspection camera become very affordable nowadays. For those of you who do not know what the inspection camera is, it is a device to help you inspect the places that usually could not be easily reached. At WhichInspectioncamera, we reviewed several most popular inspection cameras and explained what are the important features for an inspection camera. Hope it helps you to find your best inspection camera.
Top 3 Inspection Camera Quick Comparison
Why you need an inspection camera
You can use the inspection cameras(sometimes called video borescopes) in many places that are difficult to see otherwise. For example, you may plan to do the rewiring in an old house. With an inspection camera, you can just drill a series of small holes in the dry wall (large enough to accommodate the camera head) and then use the inspection camera to check the existing wiring . Without it, you probably have to open up a lot of things. That could be quite a hassle. People can also use inspection cameras to trace down the water leak or mold in a house. You can also use it to check the engine compartment. Furthermore, the camera and its connection cable are often waterproof. It could be submerged and used under the water. The list goes on and on. We are just touching the tip of the iceberg here. If you look around the web, you can see lot of applications for inspection cameras. An inspection camera is a major headache or hassle saver in many places.
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DEWALT DCT410S1 12-Volt Max Inspection Camera
DeWalt is one of the major manufacturers of industrial power and hand tools. Major hardware stores carry various product lines of DeWalt on their store shelf. The DeWalt 12V MAX cordless inspection camera has a 3.5 inch detachable LCD screen. This feature is very useful. We explained in it in this review. The camera handle has an ergonomic grip that is very similar to the rest of the DeWalt 12V tool line (the rugged plastic and rubber over-mold). It has a 3 foot long waterproof cable with adjustable LED at the camera head. The unit comes with 17mm diameter camera head by default. It also offers the optional 9mm diameter camera for the application in tighter areas. Its image on the screen could be rotated to help user understand what they look at on the screen. You can also take the pictures or videos and save them onto the SD card for your documentation.
General Tools DCS400 Wireless Video Inspection Camera System
General Tools & Instruments specializes in hand tools and special instruments. It is not as famous as big brands like DEWALT and Milwauke. But, it delivers quality tools . You can easily find them in the brick and mortar hardware stores. The General Tools DCS400 has a comfortable pistol grip. It also comes with a detachable 3.5 inch LCD screen. Its camera cable is 3ft long with a 12mm camera. Supports optional 9.5mm camera cable (could be for auto application). The LED lights are adjustable. You can flip the image on the screen. There is also SD memory card support. Beyond those, it is equipped with usb port.
The detachable screen is a great feature to have. When you move the camera head/cable around, the screen can always stay upright. You don’t have to move your head around to follow the screen movement. If you are interested to know more, here are two more cameras that offer the detachable screen feature. One is the Whistler inspection camera WIC-5200. You can check the related info here. One is from EXTECH.
Ridgid Micro Inspection Camera 37888
The Ridge Tool Company is a major hand tool manufacturer. Lot of them are distributed through Homedepot. The Ridgid 37888 CA-300 Micro inspection camera is the latest offering for its inspection product line. A 3.5 inch LCD screen with the image rotation function. By default, It comes with a 17mm diameter waterproof camera cable for general purpose application while also offers optional 6mm imager. It has 4 adjustable LED lights. Other than SD memory card and usb support. It has an internal memory of 235M. Audio annotation capability is another interesting feature it offers. The unit offers a lot of quite useful features. But, it comes with a price. Compared with other inspection cameras in the market, it is a bit expensive to own it.
Milwaukee 2311-21 Digital Inspection Camera
Milwaukee Electric Tool is another industry-leading manufacturer for the power and hand tools.
The Milwaukee inspection camera (2311-21) is its latest generation of inspection cameras. 3.5 inch LCD screen. You could rotate the image on the screen. The kit comes with a 3 ft waterproof camera cable and a 17mm imager (optional 9.5mm). Plus, its LED lights are adjustable. It supports SD memory card, USB port and also voice annotation capability. But, the kit does not come with the standard hook, magnet, mirror attachment addon, which is kind of surprising.
ACDelco ARZ604 Digital Inspection Camera
ACDelco is a leading company in auto industry. As you would guess, ACDelco ARZ604 6-volt Alkaline-Battery Inspection Camera is suitable for the vehicle inspection. It comes with all the essential features. 6 feet long watertight camera cable. It has a wideview 8mm diameter cable. (optional 5.5mm imager) 3 inch screen with 2.5X zoom-in capability. It also has a video out for monitoring. It uses 4 AA batteries(kind of rare). However, its claimed run time is up to 14 hours. It is a lot less expensive than other models we introduced. This is by no means all around inspection camera. But, the camera have all the essential features you need.
Beyond the reviews, what features you should look for?
The technology of the inspection camera evolve quite a bit in the past few years. An inspection camera can have all kinds of bells and whistles. So, the price for an inspection cameras could be a lot different depending what features it offers. It could be confusing sometimes. What we are doing is to categorize some of the common features. Some of them are necessary to have. Some of them are optional to our opinion. Based on that, you can also do your own research to find out what your favorite inspection camera is.
Must Have Features
Waterproof camera cable/probe: Camera probe and its cable need to be waterproof. Otherwise, its use will be seriously limited.
Screen Size: Over the past few years, the common screen size of inspection cameras increase from 2.5 inches to 3+ inches. In this particular case, the bigger, the better.
Adjustable LED light: This is a must-have. During use, the camera may come across shiny surfaces. With the LED light around the camera probe, it could cause strong glare that could eventually block the view. To have adjustable LED reduces glare. For example, you want to check inside the drywall. Then, you camera head is close to a metal stud. Now you may need to turn down the LED light to get the optimum visual results.
Image rotation: when use, you often find yourself look at the things in the strange angles which makes things difficult to decipher. It is important to be able to rotate the image on the screen to tell which one is which.
Great to have features
Detachable wireless screen: usually when the units have the detachable wireless screen, it has magnet on the back or side of that screen. You can attach the screen onto the metal surface while you get the camera head into the places where you want to see. Also, you can have one person monitor the screen while the other work on the camera probe. Without it, you may have to tilt your head left and right while you try to get the probe head into the right place.
Small diameter camera option: lot of inspection cameras come with a 17mm diameter camera head. While this size camera head could be perfect for general use, it oftens requires smaller size camera head when you inspect the car engine interior or a clogged drain wherever the opening is too small for the 17 mm diameter camera head to go in. You want to make sure the model has the compatible small size camera head cable available.
Support SD memory card: In lot of cases, you may want to take a picture or video at what you see on the screen for you or your clients. With SD memory support, you can save those onto the card and share those later.
Accessories: some of the units come with accessories such as the mirror, hook and magnet add-on attached to the camera head. This is very useful. You can use magnet add-on to pick up metal objects and hook for non-metal things.
Audio annotation: when you take the video, you may want to voice annotate the clip for future reference. Some of the (expensive) models do provide such capability.
USB port: some of the high end models (expensive) have USB ports. You can download the pictures and videos directly from the inspection camera to your computer with USB cables.
Battery and battery charge time: A lot of the inspection cameras we review here use the custom Li-ion batteries. Usually, Li-ion battery option comes with better battery life for the units when compared with the models that use regular AA batteries. But, some of people prefer the models with AA battery since AA batteries are readily available almost everywhere.
Cable length: most of the units come with 3 feet cable. Some units come with longer cable.
So, what is the best inspection camera?
The answer is it depends. If you think the detachable LCD screen will facilitate your work, the DEWALT DCT410S1 inspection camera could be your best inspection camera. If you want the USB port and voice annotation, the Milwaukee 2311-21 inspection camera should be the best bet. If you own a car shop and would like to have a less expensive inspection camera, the ACDelco ARZ604 is the most pragmatic solution.